Vaasu Poem by Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon


Rating: 5.0

Vaasu was my classmate in the primary school. He did not go beyond the primary classes and when I reached the secondary school, he was not with me. But, it is not about our schooldays that I am speaking about.

Recently I was out of town for a couple of days. When I returned, I found that all the precious mangoes on one of the trees in our orchard had gone. I had reserved them for my granddaughter Tasha.

Such thefts are rare in our village. So, I set out to ascertain who had done it.
One of our farm labourers revealed it to me in strict confidence.

She had seen Vaasu picking mangoes from the tree and asked him, 'have you taken permission? '
'Oh! Yes! Valyambratti has allowed me, when I asked her for money for a drink.' He quoted her again, 'but, don't let the children know.'
‘Valyambratti' refers to my mother and ‘children' me and my brothers.
'But, Valyambratti passed away three years ago? '
'No! No! it's a lie. I met her this very morning', Vaasu was firm.

Vaasu belongs to a family who were our ‘adiyaars' for generations. His ancestors worked in our paddy fields. They called my parents Valyambraan and Valyambratti and me, Kochambraan. But Vaasu called me by my name, while he called Mother as Valyambratti. After all, he was my classmate.

Vaasu was scared of my father, for he was a serious person. Even when my father was alive, Vaasu would approach Mother once in a while to fund his visit to the toddyshop. Once Father passed away, he knew that the rights of all our property rested with Mother. So he takes permission from her to take away a few things from our orchard, maybe in his (day) dreams. This arrangement continues even after Mother passed away some three years ago.

But Vaasu never worked for us. For that matter, he NEVER worked. Instead, he adopted taxation as his profession. He imposed nighttime taxes on most of the residents of the village. He had rarely had anything to do with law, because his taxes constituted a bunch of coconuts or a few bunches of bananas or a bag of paddy or betel nuts or cashew nuts. The reluctant taxpayers didn't consider it prudent to approach law, but often took law in their hands. But that did not deter Vaasu.

It was not known yet that Vaasu has started to collect his taxes during daylight too. Maybe, the toddyshops (of which he is the regular customer) close by the time he starts his night-duty.

I considered meeting Vaasu to apprise him that the orchard now belongs to me. Will it deter him in his ways or encourage him to visit my orchard more often? After all, I was his classmate.

Nighttime taxes (Nishaakala nikuthikal -നിശാകാല നികുതികൾ-in Malayalam) is a phrase coined by renowned humorist of the last century E V Krishnapillai, for theft.


A very interesting and engaging story. Great remembrance and memories of the past. Sometimes people never had the drive to improve their life. They want to have money through the easiest way even it is illegal.

2 0 Reply

Thank you, Rose Marie. Loved your notes, dear poet.

0 0

Liked how you crafted the last stanza. You allow your readers to participate and give insight to this wonderful poem. I think the knowledge of your classmate as regards the ownership of the orchard will deter him from visiting the same. Great poem. Top Marks! .

2 0 Reply

Maybe, maybe not!

0 0
Evelyn Judy Buehler 14 May 2024

I enjoyed reading this captivating story of from your past. Unnikrishnan. I loved how the mystery unraveled, and then was finally solved. Lovely writing!

1 0 Reply

Real life incident, Evelyn. Thank you for your kindness.

0 0

" took law in their hands" means they beat up Vaasu, left, right and centre.

0 0 Reply

Late E V Krishnapillai whom I have referred to in the "Note" was father large Adoor Bhasi, one of the finest actors Malayalam cinema has ever seen. But, he specialised in comedian roles and the label stuck to him

0 0 Reply
Santhi Janardanan 11 May 2024

I am sorry the comment I was writing got published before I finished. I was laughing when I came to know that collecting taxes meant theft. I was taken back to my parents ' village in Kerala where I spent my vacation. Vasu is a notorious thef. I really loved the way you have written.

0 0 Reply
Santhi Janardanan 11 May 2024

Haha! Actually, I was laughing when I understood that night taxes meant theft. You writing took me back to my Village in

0 0 Reply
Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon

Unnikrishnan Sivasankara Menon

Error Success